Letter Re: Vehicle Recommendations?

I have been reading a lot of the archive items and I have noticed a few times where you went on a trip etc, we have had a few nieces and nephews born this year and when I travel 3 to 4 hours from home I don’t feel as secure as when I am close to my home and supplies so when you venture out for a few days the questions that pop into my mind are:

  • What kind of vehicle do you travel long distances in?
  • What supplies do you stock in it?
  • What are some things we could keep in mind as we travel away from our homes for short periods?

I tried to search for these answers, so forgive me if you have already covered it and I missed it. Thanks, – Larry M.

JWR Replies: Vehicle and gear selection have been discussed in SurvivalBlog since 2005, but not much in the past year, so this subject is worth re-visiting.

A “Get Out of Dodge” vehicle need not be large, if you’ve planned ahead and pre-positioned the majority of your gear and grub at your retreat.

My personal circumstances are unusual, since I live at my retreat year-round. So the gear that I keep in my vehicle is more of a “Get Me Back Home Kit” rather than a “Get Out of Dodge Kit”. And since I live in a remote and lightly populated region that is mostly public lands, many of my readiness items I carry are for severe weather, fallen trees, or off-road driving mishaps. So, for example, I regularly carry a parka, Wiggy’s brand FTRSS sleeping bag, wool blanket, fire starting kit, two tow chains, a come-along, a shovel, and an axe. There have been times that I wished that I also had a chainsaw on board, but storage space is a constraint. (An axe will suffice in most instances, but it is much more labor intensive.) Thankfully, the majority of this gear–most notably the tow chain–has been used several times to assist other motorists, rather than myself or members of my family. Most of these have been nature photographers and dude hunters that have got themselves in over their heads, back on BLM and Forest Service roads. Depending on the season, I also carry varying quantities of cold weather clothing, and tire chains. (Yes, there are circumstances in the spring “mud season” when studded snow tires are insufficient!) When I take longer highway trips outside of my neck of the woods, I often substitute full-up “get me home” backpacks for the weight and space normally that is occupied by the tow chains and pioneer tools.

Our primary vehicle is a well-maintained Flex Fuel (E85 ethanol compatible) Ford SUV, circa 2002. It is in fairly “stock” configuration, but here in my region, one common modification is the addition of an extra heavy duty brush guard. These aren’t designed to deflect brush, but rather deer. (Deer collisions are by far the most common road hazards here.) You even see some passenger cars equipped with these “deer catchers” . They look rather comical on the front of a four-door sedan.

Even though I live outside of any anticipated EMP footprints, I carry spare electronic ignition and fuel system components, wrapped in multiple layers of aluminum foil, and stowed in a Danish cookie tin.

Since several members of our family are licensed radio amateurs, we carry either 2 Meter or 440 MHz (70 cm) transceivers in our vehicles. (We have both vehicular and hand-held models, mostly older model Kenwoods.) Diamond makes high-quality dual-band and tri-band magnetic mount vehicular antennas. For short range communication, we use MURS band walkie-talkies–which require no license–that are typically tuned to the same frequency of our Dakota Alert alarms.